Little Mell Fell

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Little Mell Fell
Little mell fell.jpg
Little Mell Fell from Great Meldrum
Range: Lake District Eastern Fells
Summit: 1,657 feet NY423240
54°36’28"N, 2°53’41"W

Little Mell Fell is a small hill by comparison to its neighbouring fells, in Cumberland but one which climbs to 1,657 feet. It stands to the north of Ullswater near the village of Watermillock, and is connected to other high ground by a narrow col to the south. This fell is an outlier of the Lake District's Eastern Fells

Just to the west is the rather similar Great Mell Fell. Both fells are of a similar size and appearance. Both appear relatively isolated, both have a smooth, rounded outline, and unlike all other fells in the Lake District, both are composed of the same Devonian age conglomerate rock.

The name of the fell shares an origin with its neighbour, from three languages: Mell from the ancient Cumbric language meaning 'bare' (the modern Welsh moel) and the top and tail of the name from English and old Norse respectively.


Little Mell Fell is a small U-shaped area of high ground, about 1 square mile in area,[1] north of Ullswater and east of Great Mell Fell. Its summit is a symmetrical rounded grassy dome in the south-east corner of the fell which reaches a height of 1,657 feet: 105 feet lower than Great Mell Fell. Two short grassy spurs extend from this dome: one to the north and one to the west. The western spur then turns northwards so that a deep valley is enclosed between the two spurs, drained by the upper reaches of Thackthwaite Gill.

The fell has one visible connection to other fells. Due south from the summit a narrow col called The Hause connects it to Watermillock Fell and a ridge of high ground running south west, parallel to the shore of Ullswater, until it culminates at Gowbarrow Fell. Intermediate tops along this ridge include Watermillock Fell (1,391 feet), Little Meldrum (1,325 feet) and Great Meldrum (1,434 feet).

The south-east corner of the fell is drained by a small beck which flows directly into Ullswater. All other parts of the fell are drained by various tributaries of Dacre Beck, which joins the River Eamont some two miles below its outfall from Ullswater. Thus the whole fell drains ultimately into the Eamont and to the Solway Firth.

The fell has a few small areas of broadleaved plantation, but otherwise is bare, the lower slopes being parcelled up into fields for agriculture.

Notices indicate the presence of adders on the fell.


The summit is at the top of a rounded, grassy dome and is marked by an Ordnance Survey trig pillar.

There is a good all-round view, though it is robbed of foreground by the gentle curvature of the grassy summit. The view extends east over the Eden Valley to the Pennine Hills, north to the Southern Uplands, west and south to the fells of the Lake District, including the Northern, Eastern and Far Eastern Fells. Nearer at hand may be seen the lower reach of Ullswater, and it is a good viewpoint for Martindale.[1][2]


Only the southern parts of the fell are Open Access land. Access to it may be gained from four points. From the east access is possible from a narrow lane alongside the fell near the Cove camping park. From the south access can be gained from The Hause, which is crossed by a minor road, and where some parking is available. From Lowthwaite Farm a public right of way runs along the south side of the fell, to The Hause. From the west a tractor track gives access to the fell from a point 450 yards north of Lowthwaite Farm.

Three used paths approach the summit: from the west ridge, from the south directly from The Hause, and from the east.[2]


A pebble of Mell Fell Conglomerate from the bed of the Wham Sike

Great and Little Mell Fells are together unique among the fells of the Lake District by being composed of the Mell Fell Conglomerate,[3] a sedimentary rock formed from deposits of sand and gravel in alluvial fans and braided river channels in a desert environment. The rock contains no fossils. The stones in the conglomerate came from the erosion of both the Borrowdale Volcanic Group and the Windermere Supergroup. The reddish-coloured rock appears to date from the late Devonian Period, sometime around 375 million years ago.[4] The erosion of this conglomerate has formed the smooth and rounded outlines that are distinctive of the two Mell Fells.

Rocks of the Devonian Period are also referred to as the Old Red Sandstone. These should not be confused with the younger New Red Sandstone of the Permian Period, found nearby in Penrith and the Eden Valley.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Wainwright, Alfred: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book One — The Eastern Fells (1955)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mark Richards (2008) [2003]. Near Eastern Fells. Milnthorpe: Cicerone Press. ISBN 978-1-852845414. 
  3. British Geological Survey Sheet E030: Appleby (Solid) (1:50,000 Geological Maps, 2004) ISBN 0751833886: Geology of Britain viewer
  4. P. Stone (2010). British Regional Geology: Northern England. Nottingham: British Geological Society. ISBN 978-0852726525.